How to Know When Rice is Done? Here are the Signs

One of the most versatile ingredients in the world is rice. It’s great for side dishes, salads, and even desserts. But how do you know when your rice is cooked? More importantly, what if it’s not cooked enough? 

In this article, we’ll cover everything from how long it takes to cook rice to how to tell if it’s ready when it comes out of the oven or off the stovetop.

While each rice is a little different, the best ways to know it’s fully cooked are most of the water has been absorbed into the rice, and has a nice, soft texture. 

How Long Does It Take to Cook Rice?

Rice is a grain that contains starch and protein. It’s not hard to cook as long as you know what you’re doing ahead of time. With a little prep, you’ll be fine. 

It can take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes to an hour or more to cook depending on the type of rice and the amount of water. 

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White Rice takes less time than other grains because it has been milled, which means that it has had its husk removed and bran layer removed as well. The bran layer contains fiber, vitamins, and minerals; removing this helps make white rice easier for your body to digest.

Brown rice still holds its bran and germ and takes significantly longer to cook (40-50 minutes). It’s important to note the instructions on the packaging as to how much water to use and the time needed to cook that particular rice. 

How Do You Know When Rice is Done?

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Absorption

A visual test is to look at how much water is in the pot. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean your rice is cooked properly. You have to analyze and hope you added enough water in the first place. Sometimes it needs a little more cooking but the water is already gone. 

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You should always use all of these signs in conjunction when determining if your rice is cooked perfectly.

Take a look at how much cooking water still remains in the pot after the allotted cooking time. If your water is almost gone, then your rice might be done. At this point, it’s time to move on to the other signs.

If there’s still a lot of water left, then either it’s not done, or you added too much water. 

Appearance

Overcooked rice has a notable appearance. Your rice will look soft. The grains won’t be separated anymore, but clump together. This isn’t the end of the world though. If it’s only a little sticky, you can rinse it under cold water in a colander to help with the stickiness.

If the sticky is intense, then consider using that rice for softer recipes like rice pudding, fried rice, and pancakes. 

Rice that’s almost done will have an interesting pattern of bubble holes at the surface. Each of these holes will be releasing steam. At this point, it’s time to turn off the heat and make sure the lid is on the pot for resting (this is when the rice finishes cooking).

Texture

Rice is done when it has a slight bite to it and isn’t mushy or crunchy. The grains should be separate from each other, but not so much that they don’t stick together in clumps. The best way to know if your rice is cooked fully is by tasting it: if you can taste individual grains with each bite, then you know your pot of grains has been cooked perfectly.

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Rice is done when it is tender and separates easily with a fork. You can use this simple trick: place your thumb in front of your index finger so they make an L shape; insert into cooked rice until you feel resistance then lift out slowly, you don’t want clumps and mush. A soft texture with a little resistance is perfect. 

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If you’re making a dish that requires cooked rice as an ingredient–like fried rice or paella–then simply follow the instructions on how long to cook your batch of uncooked rice before adding it into your recipe!

Taste

A taste test is the last and best way to check your rice.

Pick up a few grains with a fork or spoon and let them cool. Once cooled, give them a taste. You’re looking for rice with no remaining crunch. It’s firmness you want, not hardness. Your grains of rice should be soft on the inside, but still have a certain firmness on the outside, not mush.

If you have mush, then it’s overcooked and there’s nothing you can do to save it. Crunch means it needs to cook a little longer. 

What to Do if your Rice Isn’t Fully Cooked

Too Much Water

If you’ve cooked your rice for the allotted time (10-12 minutes on average) and your pot still has a lot of water left, then it may be a heat problem. 

Try turning up the heat a little to bring up the absorption and evaporation. If you need to, remove the lid from the pot. This isn’t always the best option though. The rice should be absorbing the water rather than the water evaporating. Letting too much of the water evaporate can also lead to undercooked rice.

Too Dry

Is it still crunchy? That means you didn’t add enough water. Gauge the intensity of the dryness of your rice. Mildly dry means you need to add another ¼ cup of water while extremely dry requires around a ½ cup. 

After adding the water, put the lid back on and return the pot to your heat (low to medium-low). This is one of the moments where you can stir the rice gently. You don’t want the grain to stick to the pit while they finish cooking. 

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You forgot to rest

Like meat, you need to let your rice rest. This is an important step that many forget when they’re cooking rice. 

The resting phase for rice makes sure the rice is steamed to fluffy and moist perfection. It won’t be too sticky or too dry. The slight cooking makes sure the grains remain firm and not mushy.

Keep the lid on your pot and remove it from the heat. You’re going to want to let it sit and steam like that for another 10-15 minutes. Once the resting time is complete, use a fork to fluff the rice, adding some air into the mix.

Is it Okay to Eat Undercooked Rice?

Technically, yes. There are some things you should consider when making this decision though.

  1. Indigestion. Rice is coated in what’s called cellulose. Our digestive systems aren’t designed to break down cellulose and then digest it. So, not only will you not benefit from eating the rice at all, you may end up in some discomfort.
  2. Bacteria. Undercooked rice may contain a bacteria called Bacillus cereus. Undercooked food that contains this bacteria can cause food poisoning resulting in nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. It can be life threatening in certain circumstances. 
  3. Lectin. Some grains and vegetables contain a type of protein called lectin. Some people react poorly to lectin with symptoms mimicking food poisoning. This protein is broken down into digestible forms when cooked. 

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Conclusion

Rice is a versatile food that can be eaten as a side dish or even as the main course. It’s easy to make and tastes great, but sometimes we get confused about whether it’s done or not. 

The best way to tell if your rice is cooked through is by testing its consistency with your finger: if it feels soft but doesn’t have any hard spots, then it should be ready!